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Cody Caves - With a Touch of Hawaii?
by Leah Hoeger Just about to hit snooze one more time on my alarm when I remembered…today I get to go caving! A special treat for most, I had never gone caving and was so excited to see what these caves have to offer. Officially a “Nelsonite”, I have lived in the area for over eight years, and driving past the Cody Caves sign many times over the years has continuously sparked a curiosity in me and my companions. So, feeling incredibly privileged, I set out today to experience them.
The drive out to Ainsworth Hot Springs where we were to meet our guide, made my morning well worth getting up for. The mist (OK, it may have been fire smoke from far-far away) added a hazy-brushed layer over the scenery. The mountains were layered fadings of blue against a red-tainted sky. Following a windy road along the green lake with bright-blue wildflowers on all sides, it was all I could do to keep my eyes on the road.
At a cute shack against the far Ainsworth parking lot we were given our caving jumpsuits while we waited for the rest of the crew to join us…and we ended up being accompanied by the sweetest Albertan family here in the Kootenays for holidays! The crew gathered and off we went up the famous Cody Caves road (steep logging road, cars beware—carpool in a truck!) Now I don’t want to spoil your future adventure, but couldn’t if I tried! Safe to say we learnt far more than we thought was possible to know about the caves: built in sub to tropic conditions and then altered by glaciers on ground originally from where Hawaii is!? If we touched the rock with our bare hands, we could cause the water to be diverted for 300 years! A brush of our hands could ruin a cubic centimeter of calcium, which had taken a century to form. We followed the caver’s motto:
Take Nothing But Pictures. Leave Nothing But Footprints. Kill Nothing But Time.
We were on the Adventure Tour, hooting into caverns and inch worming on our stomachs, passing “soda straws” and “boxing”, while paying rapturous attention to the folds of the rock, each nick and groove telling a story. I think we were all proud of being a part of the Kootenays as this lovely Albertan family oohed and awed, so happy to have made the adventure since they had run out of time on their last trip to the Kootenays. A trip, they told us, where they planned on doing as much as possible, yet still would need to come back many times. The father preceded to educate us, happily rubbing his hands together, about the infamous fish “monster pike” that they had witnessed while waste-deep in Kootenay Lake by Woodbury as we all happily trudged back down the hill, hungry, cold, and grinning. Despite my better judgment, I had opted not to wear my wool socks (wool socks and rubber boots, glove linings if you have them- bring them!), and the 6 degree (C) air and the freezing water made me the happiest person alive. As we passed Ainsworth Hot Springs on the way back to Nelson, we fantasized about the hot caves (we wanted more caves!) and the fabulous meals we wish we had time to enjoy after our adventurous, intrigue-filled day. (of course, that didn’t leave us from admiring the fruit stands on the drive back) For tourists and locals alike, create your amazing caving day! Choose your Cody Caves tour here, and Ainsworth Hot Springs is impossible to pass up. Just don’t forget your wool socks no matter the weather! :)